I worked in the wine industry for a few years, and there is a belief among winemakers that the wine turns out better if you stress the vines. To my understanding, this is a debatable practice. But the theory is if you under water the vines, the fruit will become more rich and dense (er… something like that).
My point is, I’m feeling stressed. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. And it’s completely understandable really. I’ve been thrust into a very new and very different environment. Who wouldn’t have some level of stress? Besides, we actually need a little bit of stress to live a healthy life. For example, working out is a way of putting stress on your body. If you do it gently and in the correct doses it actually leads to optimum physical health and well-being. If we experienced absolutely no stress, we’d be catatonic limp noodles. Stress is really just a straining and stretching. The problem is when stress gets out of balance (and unfortunately way too many people are way too stressed).
I don’t feel too stressed, but last night I really started to feel it in my body. I haven’t been sleeping enough, waking up in the 5:00-6:00 hours, no matter what time I go to sleep. I can feel I’ve been clenching my jaw in my sleep, waking up to sore jowls (what am I holding on to?), and today I feel like I’m getting a little bit of a cold- lots of ear, nose, and throat inflammation. Which, again, is understandable. Being on a plane for a total of around 17 hours, with no air circulation, then arriving to a completely new world where I kind of have to be on extra alert, to figure out everything, that shit is bound to take it’s toll.
I finally met someone! A woman staying at my current homestay. She’s been here for five weeks and she basically said that I’m right on track. It took her about a week to start to feel normal (I don’t understand how people could do a trip like this and only stay for a week). She also said there were a lot of people on her yoga retreat that had gotten a cold like this in their first few days. That helped to hear.
So, yesterday I woke up in my overpriced, mediocre homestay. My breakfast was some other sort of green “cake” with some sort of pumpkin dish and black rice sticky pudding. I was laughing to myself because I realized that it was October 1st, and even in Bali I can’t escape pumpkin spice! I was excited for the black rice sticky pudding because I’d heard about this dish when I was planning the trip, and I’ve been a huge fan of black rice for years (if you haven’t tried black rice, it’s seriously the best. No joke- once you go black you will not go back!) It was all really good.
I moved to my next homestay which is overall way better, and cost less. Better neighborhood, easier to access, beautiful grounds, bigger bed, much bigger room- even has a little fridge (which is really nice to be able to keep my water cold) and a kitchen (most of the kitchens here, even in the restaurants, are pretty much just glorified camping stoves). Oh, and I finally figured out that all those beautiful doorways are the entrances to homes and homestays!
Even though, overall, this is a better place, the room is a little dingy and the bathroom sucks. The hot water doesn’t work, which is ok later in the day, but even lukewarm would be nice. I’m big on bathrooms. I consider them sacred spaces. All of the apartments I’ve lived in, the bathrooms have been Buddha themed. So, the gross, dingy bathrooms are a big disappointment to me. It’s where you go to get clean, so it would be nice if it seemed, y’know, clean in there.
I’m only booked here til tomorrow, then I move on. I wouldn’t mind staying at this place a little longer, but there are no openings. So, I just booked my next place, even more in center of the cute neighborhood that I’ve been getting to know. And it has a pool! I’ll be there for 5 nights, which will be nice to stay someplace a little longer.
I’ve been really feeling like I need some grounding. I usually stretch and meditate every day, at home. If I go more than 2-3 days without it, I start to feel really out of sorts. Well, I didn’t do much meditating the week before I left, and I haven’t meditated at all since I’ve been here! So that has added to the stress on my body.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and take a yoga class at one of the trendy places just down the street. First of all, it costs about $10 USD for a yoga class here (at any of the places), which is complete and utter bullshit, and I think it’s because white people own all the yoga studios. I can pay that much in the states! I could even find accommodations here for that price. Not great ones, but still. Anyway, I figured it would be a place to meet people and my body could really use it.
And oh my fucking God Truth, I am so glad I did. I finally started to release some of the mass amounts of tension I have been feeling in my body. And I actually kind of sort of met some more people. Finally! So I’ll probably spend some more exorbitant amounts of money doing that again.
And I also found my expats and my gays! Yesterday when I was walking around, I saw two men walk out of a shop across the street, and in my mind I gasped Yes! Some gays! Or wait, they look alike, maybe they’re brothers. Oh! They’re holding hands! Gays! Yay! I didn’t get a chance to talk to them (yet), but I definitely gave them a big “hi guys!” smile.
Before that, I finally got tired of the shitty instant coffee they serve at the homestays, and decided to go check out one of the trendy coffee shops. The first one I happened upon was called FREAK Coffee. So I made myself at home in there. It was filled with expats. Of course. Across time and cultures the two places where people always come to gather (besides church) are cafes and bars/pubs. So I’ll probably start drinking more coffee and beer.
I still haven’t gotten my flowy dress, a new bag, nor my money changed, but that hasn’t been due to avoidance, it’s been due to distraction.
Once I started exploring this new neighborhood, eventually I found myself at the entrance of the Monkey Forest, which I don’t feel like paying to go in, and I don’t even need to. There are monkeys all over the place outside the entrance. That was pretty cool. Although I found myself a little scared of the monkeys too.
I’m kind of glad I feel a little sick. I feel like all the fears I’ve had- my body doesn’t have the strength to hold onto anymore, and my guard is coming down a little. But I could definitely still use a massage or three. That’ll be next.
Today was really about amping up the self-care. That yoga class was great. Putting myself in environments more conducive to meeting people was good too. And for lunch I had some Tom Kha soup. I also ordered a large coconut water (my body loves and thrives on coconut water). I didn’t realize how gigantic a large was. It could’ve easily served three people.
So I finally feel like I’m starting to settle into the vibe here a little. And starting to get some grounding.
I’d also like to mention- I’m really surprised how attractive I find a lot of the Balinese men. Beautiful really. Especially the little dudes that are all styled out in the skater vibe. I think it’s something in their eyes. Or their smiles. Or maybe it’s that whole brown complexion that I’m such a sucker for. I don’t know, but it does something to me. I wonder if it’s taboo to hook up with the locals? That’s a question that google wasn’t able to answer for me. I guess I’ll have to ask one of the expats, when I start to get to know them.